We have several stops in Mexico along the way – Ensenada, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo (Ixtapa), Acapulco, and Puerto Chiapas. My cooking class in Ensenada was cancelled due to ‘muddy roads & inclement weather”. Not sure where they were taking us to learn how to make fish tacos, but it was raining again. I guess we were still having the weather we left in California.
Then, what a difference a couple of sea days make!! Today in Manzanilla it is beautiful and sunny with temperatures in the 80s. Manzanillo is one of Mexico’s most important ports. It is also a very popular stop for cruise ships. It is the sailfish capital of the world and people flock here every year to catch these beautiful fish. They do have a limit now on how many you can catch, one per person per trip, and they must be of a certain size. Thank goodness! because previously you could take as many as you could catch. However I wasn’t interested in deep sea fishing and headed out on a tour to Colima and Comala in the Mexican Sierra Madres. We passed by coastal lagoons of salt water on our trip where they harvest sea salt and raise shrimp. It looked very clean compared to some places I have seen around the world. It was a long bus ride but it was worth it to find two very interesting towns, Colima & Comala.
Colima has an archeological site to wander about, including an open tomb you can climb down into. No I did not!! The steps were intimidating and no hand rails and my two knees said don’t you dare! There is a lovely town square with an ornate bandstand, surrounded by old buildings including a beautiful church, hotel and pretty decent shopping. A museum visit was included with many artifacts discovered at the archeological site. The university of Colima is also situated here for locals, exchange students and others wanting to learn Spanish. Hmmm, food for thought…. Anyone want to join me??
Comala, only a few miles away, was like the Mexico of bygone days. With its white-washed buildings and red tile roofs, it is known as Pueblo Blanco de America – or White Town of America. The streets are constructed with river rock and it really is like stepping back in time. Also there were very few tourists. Mostly locals going about their daily business around the beautiful central square. They are famous for a type of bread they make here and poncho, a liqueur made from tequila. We had lunch at a very good restaurant Don Comalon, full of locals enjoying their midday meal. I have always said I am not fond of Mexican food, but I have changed my mind. We were served a delicious meal of empanadas, taquitos, rice, and other items I am not sure what they are called but everything was delicious, not spicy, but you could add your own spicy salsa if you wished. This was accompanied by margaritas and a mariachi band.
Also I read that the Mexican artist, Alejandra Rangel Hidalgo was born in this area. He turned his 17th Century home into a museum and donated it to the University upon his death. He was famous for his UNICEF Christmas cards in the 50s & 60s and also handcrafted furniture. I was sorry that we did not visit.
If you are interested in volcanoes, there are three main volcanoes in the area. The youngest is Vulcan de Colima and it is active again and we could see plumes of smoke rising in the air. Apparently it is the most active volcano in Mexico today. Nearby the other two are the Nevada de Colima and the extinct El Contara. The last eruptions here were in 1998/99.
The area is amazingly fertile and they grow tons of pineapple, coconuts, limes, mangoes, papaya, bananas and tamarind to name a few products. This area produces about half of Mexico’s lime production. Mining is also important here. Iron ore being its largest deposit and I learned that Canada is involved in a large way with its production. Most of the iron is shipped to China. Also the Canadian company wants to go offshore to mine the iron and there is a large objection against doing so. We were told to go back home and tell our government that the people here do not want offshore mining. Canola oil produced in Canada is shipped here and held in a huge facility near the port. Being close to the main port of Manzanillo it is convenient to get their goods to market and so the economy in the area is very healthy.
Travelling around the world, I tend to make notes on places I would like to return to one day. Colima and Comala are on that list.